West Branch Bird Obeservations

WRWA has been working for a while now to provide a better way to identify bacteria pollution sources in the West Branch of the River. We are fortunate to have grant funding from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to help us advance this research. Now we need your help to count waterfowl populations specifically in the West Branch. Volunteers are needed to visit and count waterfowl at a designated survey site.

To adequately view and identify waterfowl from the shoreline, surveyors need either binoculars or a spotting scope. WRWA will loan out binoculars to volunteers if needed. Birds can be a significant source of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria. Swans, geese, gulls, and other waterfowl can all elevate bacterial counts, especially in wetlands, ponds, and rivers. Research shows that the feces from these birds, contain what can be considered significant numbers of FC per gram. Considering the average weights and FC concentrations of the goose feces, they can potentially contribute approximately 128 thousand fecal coliform colonies per fecal deposit to the surface water. The potential FC impact of these birds is relative to the numbers and types of birds, as well as the duration and time of day that the birds roost on the surface water and their defecation rates. Gathering this information will help us understand the many sources of bacteria in the River.